31 may - 4 june 2023

How Europe Says Sorry

Sat 3 June | 15:00 - 16:30 | De Balie | Salon
Rokhaya Seck
Programme editor

Last December, Dutch prime-minister Mark Rutte formally apologized for the colonial past of The Netherlands, after years of grappling with the colonial legacy. He acknowledged the damage our state has done to enslaved people for hundreds of years and the effects this still has. Is apologizing the right approach to take and if so, what is the right way to apologize? With leading thinkers Mame-Fatou Niang (France), Kehine Andrews (UK) and researcher & heritage professional Sofia Lovegrove (UK/Portugal/NL) and Professor of Legal Philosophy Wouter Veraart (NL), we’ll discuss how to deal with the crimes of Europe’s colonial past.

Germany was the first European country to apologize in 2001. The United Kingdom has expressed regret, but hasn’t apologized yet. However, English cities London and Liverpool have uttered their apologies. And while in France the government has long acknowledged their actions as a crime against humanity, in Spain and Portugal the discussion about the colonial past has hardly come off the ground.

Are formal apologies sufficient to close the book on colonialism? Or are reparations in order? Our experts will draw on their expertise to help us answer these difficult questions our shared European colonial legacy poses and, how the colonial past and present of former imperial powers differ from each other.


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